Friend, what is worry?
Friend, what is pain?
All you ever talk about is love –
Oh friend, tell me, what is love?
Is it just about pain?
Is it just about tears?
Is it only about sighs of disappointment?
Then why do people seek to sacrifice their happiness
Hoping to welcome this grief into their lives?
All I can see in this world are beauty, youth and splendour…
Blue skies, green fields,
Bright moonlight that bathes the world –
And budding blossoms.
They are just like me.
All they do is laugh and dance
Wishing to die only in their joy.
They do not know hurt,
They do not know grief.
They do not know of the pain that you cherish.
(Translation of “Shokhi Bhalobasha Kaare Koy” by Rabindranath Tagore)
Their internships were drawing to a close, and they had lots of work to do and also their upcoming exams to prepare for.
With the hectic schedule that she had, it was so much easier to keep Abhi and their relationship out of her mind. She needed to talk to him, but with the terrible moods she was in these days, it wouldn’t be a great idea.
She did think of him sometimes when she got the time – every night before falling asleep, his face would float to the forefront of her mind and a tired sigh would escape her lips. It was not easy to ignore half your life. It was just as easy as forgetting to breathe.
She had lost count of the numerous times she had stopped outside his office, intending to speak to him, but then changed her mind and continued with work. She didn’t know what to do – how to begin, what to say, where to end.
And as for him, Abhi had become as reclusive as ever. As it was, he was hard to get to open up, but these days it seemed as if something was constricting him, eating him up from the inside. She could sense it. It was there in his eyes, every time he turned his glare at her. She could see something else behind the sheets of ice. He was waiting for something, desperately…and she didn’t know what that was.
“Umm…Nikki? Muskaan was looking for you”, Riddhima softly cut through her thoughts, bringing her back to earth.
“What’re you doing here for so long? I came searching…” she trailed away uneasily, when Nikki didn’t answer.
They were in Sanjeevani’s washroom.
“Nikki?” she prodded again.
“Maybe you should speak to Dr. Modi…do you want me to arrange for you two to meet? He listens to me…sometimes”, she added as an afterthought.
Nikki shook her head and took a deep breath. “It needs time.”
“Nikki, you can’t ignore him forever…whatever happened between you two…” she hesitated. “Don’t let it go, Nikki. You might never get it back.”
Her words of truth hit her hard, but she remained silent.
“I don’t know.”
“What don’t you know, Nikki?”
She shrugged in reply.
“I understand this is just between the two of you, but if you would like to share, I’m listening. Don’t just tell me something and keep the rest inside you, Nikki”, Riddhima sounded frustrated.
“I don’t know what to say, Riddhima. Neither to you, nor to Abhi”, she turned to the mirror, gripping the granite counter tightly.
“Why not?” she placed her hand on her shoulder and gave it a little squeeze.
“Because what?” she coaxed.
“…I mean, I know what I’m thinking”, she turned abruptly. “But…I don’t know how to say it. I mean, I want to say it but something stops me…I open my mouth and even though the thoughts are in my head, I just can’t speak. I never have the words…” she looked sideways at the wall, disturbed.
“…but whatever it is, Nikki, it needs to be said. You can’t just let it hang and expect him to understand everything”, she explained.
“I know the consequences Riddhima, I know what can happen, I know what he’s thinking. I just don’t know what he wants from me…and I don’t even know what I want from him.”
“You need to sort this out, Nikki.”
“Of course I do…but I don’t have that much time right now”, she ran her hand through her hair in irritation, pulling out her ponytail in the process.
“But you need to…” she looked bewildered.
“Find time, I know”, she completed the sentence for Riddhima. “But you know what, with all the work we have right now, and the preparations for the exams, I just have too much on my plate.”
“This isn’t college, and I can’t sit and think for days or weeks…those lovelorn teenagers and college goers do that. We don’t have the time for it. I have a career to concentrate on, and I can’t give hours behind my love life…even if it’s messed up”, her voice almost gave up on her as she continued.
“And it’s not just messed up, it’s majestically messed up. None of us know what we want, we can’t communicate properly, we hardly talk to each other because we’re too busy fanning our inflated egos, and when we do want to talk we don’t have the time since we’re both impossibly busy!”
“We keep taunting each other and glaring. That’s all we’ve been doing for a week, Riddhima. We need to sort this out quickly, I know, or else it will snowball into something really big but we got so messed up at a time when we don’t have the time to even talk!”
She looked helplessly at Riddhima.
“You’ve been bottling all this up inside you for these days, right?” she asked softly. “You need to get it all out, Nikki…I can tell there’s a lot more to this than you put across.”
“Well, of course there is. But there are some things I just can’t say, and you know that, Riddhima. Of all the people in the world, you should know that.”
“I do know that. And that’s why I’m asking you to get it out somehow. Write it in your diary at least.”
“I can’t. I just can’t get it out of me.”, she said, shaking her head, defeated.
“Being with Abhi isn’t easy, Riddhima. We’re both complex people. And none of us ever explain what we’re actually feeling and why”, Nikki looked up. “We’ve always had to understand. And he’s been my biggest support regarding this…”
“But now it’s him you can’t explain things to, even without words. Right?” she asked understandingly.
She sighed in agreement.
“You need to go past the glares. Getting angry at each other won’t help. And you’re so worried about your exams as well…let me tell you, this problem you have with Abhimanyu will affect your performance. You need to get it off your chest, and everything will fall into place.”
“Go past the glares”, she gave a mirthless smile. “It’s not so easy when you have too stubborn people at the two opposite ends.”
“One of you has to bend.”
“None will, trust me. I’m saying this because I know us both very well. Even though I know one of us has to surrender. I won’t be the one doing so first. We both have inflated egos, and we’ll have to defeat them first before taking on each other.”
“It’s because though we’re very different from each other, we’re quite similar too in some areas. We think in the same way in these situations. On one hand it works to our advantage, since we understand each other very well often, but then you can see us right now…precariously balanced at the edge of a cliff. We either jump or take a step back. It’s just to see who does it first.” She continued.
“Don’t you feel strange, saying all this? You know exactly what the situation is and what you should do, yet you’re adamantly refusing to bend”, Riddhima looked incredulous.
“No. I don’t feel anything out of the ordinary. I’m not perfect. Neither is Abhi. We don’t always do the right things, even though we know what to do. We always give each other a hard time.” She shrugged. “We’ll come around…hopefully”, she added as an afterthought.
“I’ve never seen you like this, Nikki”, Riddhima x-rayed her.
“Neither have I seen me like this. Abhi always brings out sides in me I never knew. Even I’m surprised at how stubborn I can be”, she laughed softly. A mirthless, emotionless laugh.
“You don’t talk so much when you’re emotional…” she observed.
“You’re right, I don’t. But you’re such an easy person to talk to. Riddhima. I’ve never felt uncomfortable”, Nikki returned her friend’s half-smile.